19th November 2020
Rising Voices, a dementia friendly choir, in the HSE Odin’s Wood Day Care Centre in Finglas West was started in September 2019. A partnership between Dublin City Council and Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City and County (CHO DNCC) the choir aims to support people who are affected by memory loss along with their carers, family and friends.
Even though the venue is Odins Wood, anyone living in the wider community with dementia and their carers are very welcome” says Paula Bermingham, HSE Odin’s Wood Day Centre Manager.
“Our first public performance was in the Mansion House in February 2020 for Cllr. Dermot Lacey. It was such fun, and so many came along to make it work so well, I’d a team of volunteers who helped organise it,” according to Paula. More than 40 people performed on the day.
The performers were supported on stage by family carers and volunteers including a retired PHN from Wellmount Health Centre. The programme, devised and arranged by musical director Marion McEvoy, was ‘Remembering the Royal’ and included songs from Peggy Dell, Jimmy O’Dea and Noel Purcell amongst others. They were supported on stage by students from Coláiste Eoin who were the high kicking Royalettes under the leadership of Stephanie Skelly and Paula O’Brien.
With the onset of Covid 19 the choir were disappointed they could not meet and this proved both challenging and stressful for those with dementia and their carers.
In an act of camaraderie and resilience they set up an online group where some choir members and family carers could meet for a weekly sing-along and chat. Evidence shows music can boost mood, reduce agitation and improve focus for dementia patients, and they find this with their choir members continuing to engage in fun and friendship during the weekly call.
Paula explains how they’ve performed during Covid-19 restrictions: “We take a creative approach to opportunities as they arise, the Rising Voices choir was invited to participate in Social Inclusion Week. Our Choir Director Marion McEvoy put together some fireside sing-a-long videos which had been shared with choir members.
“Marion chose “Whispering Hope” as the piece the choir would perform - it was very powerful, the words of the song speak for themselves and are relevant in the current climate. It also was a popular choice with choir members who remembered the song from their school days. We held socially distanced recording in Odin’s Wood Day Care Centre, in members’ own homes and Beneavin Manor Nursing Home. We are very grateful to the pianist Brian Ingoldsby for providing the music and to our choir director who edited and compiled the recordings into a first rate presentation.”
Mellany McLoone, Chief Officer DNCC adds: “I’m so proud of the work of the Rising Voices Choir, our colleagues in HSE Odin’s Wood Day Centre and in Older People as well as the members of the community who attend and their carers, family and friends. They continue to demonstrate such dedication and commitment to continuing under challenging circumstances, which shows the value and joy that this choir is bringing to the lives of people with dementia.”
Watch the performance on Youtube
Membership is open to anyone affected by dementia and memory loss and is on an open non-committed basis as it is understood that due to age and frailty considerations many people will not be able to attend every week. New members are always welcome. To find out more please contact: Paula Bermingham, Odins Wood. Tel: 01-8142505